Dec. 26, 2020
Governor Baker issues new temporary capacity and gathering limits, including places of worship
On Dec. 22, Governor Charlie Baker issued new limits on gatherings due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the Commonwealth. Places of worship are included in the new limitations, which take effect on Saturday, Dec. 26, and will remain in effect at least through Jan. 10.
As communicated by the bishops in their Nov. 19 guidance to our churches, the bishops continue to urge, in the strongest possible terms, that in-person, indoor worship be suspended in favor of virtual worship.
For those congregations which have opted to continue holding limited in-person worship, Governor Baker's new guidelines may entail additional restrictions.
According to Governor Baker’s new directive:
- Indoor worship services are now restricted to 25% capacity, excluding “workers and staff” from that count. The bishops’ Nov. 19 guidance limits indoor worship to a maximum of 25 persons. The new temporary limits from the governor could further reduce that maximum for very small churches.
- The temporary guidelines do not address outdoor worship specifically. In general, indoor events are capped at 10 persons and outdoor events at 25 persons, excluding workers and staff.
- Other safety protocols continue to apply.
- For all gatherings apart from worship services, there is a new general limit: 10 persons indoors, 25 outdoors. These limits apply to private homes, event venues and public spaces and, thus, churches.
While these directives from Governor Baker are a temporary and, it is hoped, short-term measure to reduce the spread of COVID-19 infection, it is critical that our churches observe these protocols, in addition to the bishops' directives, as we continue to care for one another and our neighbors.